Heroes

A vending machine. That eats trash. And makes phone cases. Invented by teens.

A group of students came up with this amazing prototype. Imagine the possibilities.

Recycling should be as simple as buying a can of soda at a vending machine, right?

It should be easy to throw your recyclable items into a machine, knowing you're helping the environment with little to no effort at all.


Image via MyProAction/Facebook, used with permission.

These students in Italy thought so, too.

What started as a school project for five high school students in a small town in Sicily has now turned into an award-winning prototype.

Marco Tomasello, Daniele Caputo, Vincenzo Virruso, Vittorio Maggiore, Toni Taormina, and their teacher, Daniela Russo, came up with a revolutionary recycling concept called MyProGeneration as a way to encourage other youth to step up their conservation game.

They tell Upworthy they had no idea their project would become reality, gaining worldwide interest and earning them the AXA Italia Social Impact Award.


So what was their winning design exactly? It's a vending machine that collects plastic bottles and turns them into phone cases.

It works by grinding any plastic recyclables deposited into the vending machine's container bin into little plastic pellets, which are melted into a plastic thread used to create 3D-printed phone cases.

GIF from Junior Achievement Italia/YouTube.

Basically, it turns this:

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Into these:

Image by MyProAction/Facebook, used with permission.

They've already got four prototype machines in action and are looking for a distribution partner to get them mass-produced.

Image by MyProAction/Facebook, used with permission.

If a group of students can make recycling this fun and easy to do, can you imagine what else we can come up with?

Photo by Maxim Hopman on Unsplash

The Sam Vimes "Boots" Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness explains one way the rich get richer.

Any time conversations about wealth and poverty come up, people inevitably start talking about boots.

The standard phrase that comes up is "pull yourself up by your bootstraps," which is usually shorthand for "work harder and don't ask for or expect help." (The fact that the phrase was originally used sarcastically because pulling oneself up by one's bootstraps is literally, physically impossible is rarely acknowledged, but c'est la vie.) The idea that people who build wealth do so because they individually work harder than poor people is baked into the American consciousness and wrapped up in the ideal of the American dream.

A different take on boots and building wealth, however, paints a more accurate picture of what it takes to get out of poverty.

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Katie Peters shared a day in the life of pandemic teaching and pleaded for teachers to be given grace.

Teachers are heroes under normal circumstances. During a pandemic that has upended life as we know it, they are honest-to-goodness, bona fide superheroes.

The juggling of school and COVID-19 has been incredibly challenging, creating friction between officials, administrators, teachers, unions, parents and the public at large. Everyone has different opinions about what should and shouldn't be done, which sometimes conflict with what can and cannot be done and don't always line up with what is and isn't being done, and the result is that everyone is just … done.

And as is usually the case with education-related controversies, teachers are taking the brunt of it. Their calls for safe school policies have been met with claims that kids aren't at risk of severe COVID, as if teachers' health and well-being are expendable. Parents' frustrations with remote or hybrid learning are taken out on the teachers who are constantly scrambling to adjust to ever-changing circumstances that make everything about teaching more complicated.

Superheroes, seriously.

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This article originally appeared on November 11, 2015


Remember those beloved Richard Scarry books from when you were a kid?

Like a lot of people, I grew up reading them. And now, I read them to my kids.

The best!

If that doesn't ring a bell, perhaps this character from the "Busytown" series will. Classic!

Image via

Scarry was an incredibly prolific children's author and illustrator. He created over 250 books during his career. His books were loved across the world — over 100 million were sold in many languages.

But here's something you may not have known about these classics: They've been slowly changing over the years.

Don't panic! They've been changing in a good way.

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